Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dedication Exercises at the Thirteenth Iowa Regimental Monument: Shiloh National Military Park

November 22, 1906

10:15 A. M.

Music: Fifty-fifth Iowa Regimental Band
“Home, Sweet Home”

Captain Charles W. Kepler, Thirteenth Iowa Regiment

Comrades of the Thirteenth Iowa, Governor Cummins, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Forty-four years ago and more, on this sacred spot, the Thirteenth Iowa Infantry formed its first line of battle to resist the assaults of the enemy.

Fortunate mortals are we to live to see this day; to witness with our own eyes what the loyal and generous people of Iowa have done to perpetuate the memory of her soldiers. Standing here before this beautiful monument, placed here by the generous and loyal people of Iowa, what memories come thronging back to us from the distant past, mingled with joy and sadness; memories of those dark and stormy days when a war cloud hung over this country like a pall of night. Brother had taken up arms against brother. The air was filled with the melody of the fife and drum. The whole earth seemed to tremble with the mighty tramp of the armies going forth to battle; memories of a young, happy manhood, with all the hopes and ambitions of the future; the camp life; the drill; the inspection; the reveille; the tattoo; the wounded; the dying; the dead; our gallant and brave commander, Colonel Crocker; our company commanders; our bunk-mates; our mothers and sweethearts all left behind; the thoughts of loved ones at home, just before the battle, all come thronging back to us on this occasion. Is it all a dream?  No! it is a reality.

If all the living officers and men of that grand old regiment that formed its first line of battle here more than forty-four years ago were here present today, but few of that gallant old regiment would answer. Why? Because they have made their last march, fought their last battle, heard the last tattoo on earth and are now answering the roll-call beyond the skies.

Forty-four years and more battling with the problems of civil life have left their impress on our physical bodies. Our steps are not as elastic, our eyes are not as bright and sparkling, we are not quite as handsome as we were forty-four years ago; but in our hearts and imaginations we are boys again. We shall never grow old.

Isn’t it sad to think that the grand old army of the Union shall soon pass from this earth?

Eleven Iowa regiments fought on this battlefield. The legislature of Iowa appropriated $50,000 to erect monuments on this field to commemorate the memory of her sons who fought here. The governor of Iowa appointed eleven commissioners, one from each regiment, to procure designs, determine the kind and character of the monuments, and to locate the same.

I had the honor to be selected the commissioner to represent the Thirteenth Iowa. Comrades of the Thirteenth Iowa, I have performed that trust to the best of my ability. I have taken great pains to keep all my comrades in touch with what we were doing. Not one penny of the state's money has been misappropriated. The commissioners have worked hard to carry out the trust reposed in them, without any consideration to themselves except the great honor conferred in their appointment. It is not for us to say how well we have performed our work. We can only point you to the monuments which we have erected, and it is for you and the people of Iowa to say whether or not we have faithfully performed our trust. If our work in the selection of the monuments and of the location of the same are satisfactory to you and the people of Iowa, I shall feel well paid for the time and labor I have expended in carrying out my part of the work.

Comrades, much as you may shrink from it, our fighting days are over. If other wars shall come to our beloved country, from foes without or foes within, others must fight those battles but it will be a pleasure and comfort to us in our declining years to remember this most enjoyable trip to the southland, in company with our beloved governor and to know that when we are gone, and the generations that shall follow us are gone, this beautiful monument will stand as a silent witness that the people of Iowa fully appreciate the sacrifices, sufferings and devotion of her sons who fought for the Union on this battlefield — the hardest fought battle of the west, and one of the hardest fought battles of the civil war.

Rev. Dr. A. L. Frisbie of Des Moines, Iowa

“We thank thee, O God, for the conspicuous success that has marked the endeavors of the commission which has erected these monuments. We pray thee that thy blessing may be so upon us that we shall move forward in these days of peace, to fight the battles which must yet be fought, that the work begun by these brave soldier boys may be carried on, and that the blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ may be upon us. In His name we ask it.  Amen.”

SOURCE:  Alonzo Abernathy, Editor, Dedication of Monuments Erected By The State Of Iowa, p. 217-9

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